For your consideration: IBMA week efficiency models

Last week, as I recall, I promised to move from incorrect lyrics to botched song titles, but I’m afraid to report that I’m not going to deliver on that this week. This being an election year, you should be used to broken promises and “revised” positions by now. If not, you apparently don’t live in a swing state (personally, I live in a bebop state, and we don’t care about politics or any current events, for that matter).

I had to postpone the messed-up song titles because I thought there was a more pressing issue at hand, that being the IBMA World of Bluegrass next week.

Last year, in one of my first columns for Bluegrass Today I offered some diet and lifestyle advice to help you get through the week in better health (“better” being a relative term). I made a very poor test subject for my system, since I followed the plan myself to the letter and landed in a hospital when it was all over.

This year, I thought I’d play it a little safer, and offer some advice for dealing with the business of the IBMA WOB, to maybe help you get a little more out of the week. We arrive at the IBMA, fresh-faced (also a relative term), ready to take on the bluegrass world, and then discover how easily we can be led astray, until suddenly the week is over, and we go home with a hangover and one business card we don’t even recognize (it has “Pick up limes, laundry detergent, brown sugar” written on the back).

This advice, by the way, will be primarily for the bluegrass musician and artist, since it’s where my World of Bluegrass experience lies, but some of it may apply to other constituencies.

People that attend business conferences in other fields will often tell you that setting goals for yourself for the event is very important. Think ahead about what you want to accomplish, and write those down (on your hand, if necessary).

Naturally, not everyone has the same goals for the IBMA week. People also have different approaches to goal-setting, and so I’ve tried to break it down into different types. Use whatever model better suits your personality and business strategy.


The Go-for-the-gusto, Slightly Unrealistic Model:

  1. Meet with 20 event producers (are there even 20 event producers?). Get verbal commitments from all of them (note: you may get this, but it may not be the verbal commitment you were expecting).
  2. Wear every single DJ down until they all agree to play our latest CD (personal note: I’ll be attending this year’s WOB in disguise).
  3. Play 68 after-hours showcases. During daytime hours play at least five “guerilla showcases” in places like the restaurant, the parking lot, and right by—or even behind—the front desk at the Renaissance (bring enough cash to make bail, just in case).
  4. Give out 1000 business cards and 500 band logo-emblazoned tongue depressors.
  5. Obtain an endorsement deal with an instrument maker, a sound equipment company, a boot maker, and a tobacco company (What? No frozen custard chain? Where’s your ambition?).
  6. While talking to people who aren’t important to my career, look past them until I find someone that actually is.

This is an admirable set of goals, but be advised that it could lead to disappointment, or worse, people turning and running the other way when they see you coming.


The Low Expectations Model:

  1. Try to sleep more than three (but no more than six) hours a night.
  2. Catch up with some old friends.
  3. Pick some after hours.
  4. Attend a seminar on “making the most of your IBMA week,” if I get up early enough. Maybe.
  5. Meet with one promoter if we happen to be in the same elevator.
  6. Spend less than $15 a day on parking

Easy to achieve, no doubt, even for an underachiever. This will be the person who looks the least stressed out on Saturday.


The Bitter Model:

  1. Upon arrival, tell the people at the Nashville airport exactly what I think about their so-called “country music!”
  2. Tell the people at the Renaissance exactly what I think of their room prices!
  3. Attend the broadcaster’s seminar and tell those D.J.s exactly what I think about their so-called “bluegrass shows,” and demand to know why my band isn’t being played!!
  4. Tell the event producers who turn me down exactly what I think about their little “events.” And I’ll tell them their producing isn’t so hot either!
  5. Play an after hours showcase, which no one will attend because they have no taste, and I plan to tell them exactly that!
  6. Attend the town hall membership meeting and tell those people exactly what I think about their so-called “organization” and the so-called “bluegrass” they claim to promote. Plan to burn IBMA membership card during meeting (suggestion: become a member first).
  7. Tell everyone who asks, exactly what I think about moving to Raleigh, and that they can just have their little “World of Bluegrass” without me next year, though I actually plan to attend to tell them just exactly what I think of their new “site.”

Tip for the week: avoid getting on an elevator with this person.


The Realistic Middle Ground Model:

  1. Attend at least three seminars that apply to my career.
  2. Don’t get stuck talking to a blowhard I don’t even know for more than 30 minutes in any given day.
  3. Attend my constituency meeting and be tolerant of anyone who decides to tell the rest of us “exactly what he thinks.”
  4. Have a meeting with at least one promoter, hoping that he/she doesn’t have to look down at my name tag.
  5. Try to get to bed by 3:00 AM every night.
  6. Get outside and catch some music on Broadway without tripping over any drunk tourists.
  7. Record a station ID for a radio station that’s actually playing our music.

I naturally favor the last option, but that’s just me. It looks achievable, mildly productive and fairly stress-free.

I’m afraid time and space didn’t allow for these additional models:

  • The Obsessive-Compulsive Model
  • The Bore-everyone-else-to-tears-all-week-long Model
  • The “This-is-just-a-big-party-isn’t-it?” Model
  • The See-if-I-can-stand-in-the-same-spot-all-week-long Model

Have a good and productive week. If you see me there, looking down at my name tag won’t help at all because I’ll be wearing one that says “Charlie Sizemore.”